“You’d be surprised how many people will invite you inside their home but not let you near their closet,” Dorly said as she peered into my closet door.

“How do you find the best looks if you don’t go inside the closet?”  I’d already picked most of my outfits and matched up the accessories.  A fuchsia sheath dress, a leather jacket, my favorite jeans, a lace mini and a fur vest my mother gave me.

Dorly said, “Your closet is immaculately organized.”

I beamed.  “I really enjoyed throwing my old clothes away.  Now, I stick with the basics and a few special pieces.”

Because I threw out my old clothes
Because I threw out my old clothes

“Did you keep a pair of pants from before to show how much you’d lost?” Dorly asked.

The Before.  “No.”

My old closet symbolized the weight of emotional crap I’d carried through my life.  3 different sizes of fat clothes, things I’d purchased because nothing else was in my size, shoes that pinched, belts that held up nothing.

She nodded in understanding.  “I believe a woman’s closet shows her emotional state.  You need to give yourself credit for more than your weight loss.”

I nodded, trying to absorb the magnitude of what I’d accomplished.  The satisfaction with reaching a goal carried little weight with me.  Once I was close to the finish line, I’d make new goals for the Next Thing.

My story was still unfolding.  The only goal was to finish and I had no idea how to get to that mythical place.  Once again, Dorly knew.  “You are ready,” she announced.

I arrived at Dorly’s inviting studio and snuggled into her grey tufted couch.  Even though it was cold and rainy outside, I felt like I’d stepped into a place of comfort, “We’ll show your best self.  I’ll help you plan out the clothes and jewelry that will pop in pictures.  The hair and the makeup mark the beginning of the day of the shoot.”

She handed me a few fashion magazines.  “Look inside and tell me what you like.  I also have boards on Pinterest to help you along.”

I thumbed through a few pages and returned them to the table.   “I want you to reveal the Real me.  The one that has been hiding underneath.  The one who doesn’t know how to be shown yet.”

“I’m so touched that you’d trust me like that.”

It wasn’t just trust.  She had proven to me that she could understand my vision through the story without me having to describe each step.  We could again work in tandem and find the inner story.

Dorly reassured me.  “My clients are always experiencing transition.  They either want to change, swimming through the middle of it, or now at the end of a long road.  The honesty of the transformation will be validated through the photography.  I already see it.”

I breathed a sigh of relief.  “Good, because I’d like to know what it looks like.”

Two weeks later, I relaxed into the make-up artist’s chair as she gently painted every nook and cranny of my face with foundation.  The floor gently creaked as she danced the brushes across my face. When my bladder signaled for a break, but I didn’t want to look in the mirror.  I stumbled into the dark to avoid my reflection and hoped I wouldn’t fall off the commode.  I couldn’t face what I might look like.

Click, click click came from her camera.  As dappled light passed through the window sheers, Dorly pointed me in different directions.  Look down, then up, shoulder forward, fewer teeth, and longer neck.  Fluid.  Easy.

I never had a chance to grow uncomfortable.

By Bettina Restrepo

Bettina Restrepo is a writer, a mom,a wife, a daughter, a sister and twenty-six other roles. She lives near Dallas, Texas with her husband, son, and very naughty dog.